BOSTON (CBS) — We’ve been hearing an awful lot about Jarrett Stidham lately, with just about everything pointing to the quarterback as New England’s heir to what Tom Brady built over the last 20 seasons. Those are some lofty expectations for a 23-year-old who has made just four passes in the NFL, but those around the team and those who have worked with the quarterback have confidence that Stidham will succeed.

You can add Stidham’s former coach at Auburn, Gus Malzah, to that list. He doesn’t think the young QB will have any problems becoming the leader of the New England Patriots, even in the shadow of one Tom Brady. Some of that has to do with having a year to learn under the GOAT himself, but Malzah also points to Stidham’s own makeup.

“It definitely helped him to learn under the best and see what that looks like, but he’s the kind of young man, too, this is what he’s been waiting on. I’ll tell you, the moment won’t be too big for him. He’ll be up to the challenge, that’s what I expect,” Malzahn told ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Stidham played one year at Baylor before transferring to Auburn in 2017, and Malzah knew early on that it wouldn’t take very long for Stidham to become the leader of the Tigers. He explained that what Stidham brought to Auburn — both on the field and in the huddle — fits perfectly into New England’s offense.

“Even when he got here, before he played his first game, you could just kind of tell he was a mature young man. Like a gym rat, always at the complex trying to learn, study film. When he got drafted by the Patriots [in 2019], I thought it was a perfect spot for him system-wise — spreading the field,” he said. “He’s so good with protections, changing protections, and scheme-wise everything that goes with it, and just the flexibility the scheme gives him. I think that really applies to his strength.”

Malzah also noted that Stidham quickly earns the respect of his teammates.

“He’s a people person, too. He has the ability, right off the bat, to develop relationships. People rally around him,” he said. “When he first got here, he had spent one-on-one with the coaches, one-on-one time with the players. He just has that ability that people want to follow him.”

Patriots fans only got to see Stidham in action during the preseason and make one regrettable throw against the New York Jets in regular season action.  But Malzah saw him lead his team to some big wins at Auburn, including a 26-14 victory over Alabama in 2017 to earn a spot in the SEC title game.

“In 2017, he had an outstanding year. He played his best football in our biggest games. Of course, we beat our two rivals and went to the SEC championship game. Had a great year,” Malzah said of Stidham’s first season at Auburn, in which the QB completed 67 percent of his passes and threw for over 3,100 yards. “The next year, our top two receivers tore their ACLs in the spring, so that was kind of tough on him. But he did a great job when he was here.”

Overall, Stidham went 18-9 during his two seasons at Auburn. He will compete with veteran Brian Hoyer for New England’s starting job when training camp begins.


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